English R1B

Reading and Composition: Silence

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
22 Fall 2022 D'Silva, Eliot
TuTh 8-9:30 Dwinelle 263


We are all silent at times. We keep quiet over dinner with our relatives or nod passively at work. Some people dislike silence, equating it with being alone and lonely, while others look forward to spending time with their thoughts, seeking out silence as a refuge from a chaotic, noisy world. In this class, we’ll think about how our personal, social, and political lives are shaped by silence and then read a few literary texts about silence. Silence has often been understood as a home for the creative mind and the writers on our syllabus all employ silence both as a literary technique and as a major theme in their work. We’ll read texts that engage silence not only as the absence of language but as a product of power relations and a response to the unknown, ineffable, aporetic aspects of existence. The class will also put these texts in dialogue with reflections on silence in queer theory, black studies and disability studies.

The class will provide opportunities for students to pose analytical questions, construct arguments supported by evidence and undertake scholarly research. Over the semester, students will complete assignments including annotated bibliographies, independent and collaborative close analysis, library visits, and a research paper on one of our texts. There might also be opportunities to respond to creative prompts that build on the key terms and concepts of the course, such as keeping a meditation journal. 

Readings and screenings will include works by Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Toshio Mori, Toni Morrison and Kelly Reichardt.

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